Golden retriever sat on the pavement

Willow Moves House

I was guilty of focusing more on the organising and packing of our house and our cat than I was on Willow. A mistake I have definitely learnt from.
She fooled us into a false sense of security by being really chilled in all the chaos, boxes, tips to the trip, removal men, removal men with skips, that I actually thought she would go with the flow and it would be Rosie ‘the cat’ that we really needed to make sure we were all on the same page with, especially as she had re-enacted a Houdini stunt and escaped her carrier as we were leaving the house. So we were all on guard to ensure she didn’t escape the new house when we arrived.
How wrong I was! Rosie, as it turns out, was the easiest! So much so, she decided that like a teenager going out for the night, her curfew of 10 pm was never broken, and she spent most of her days sitting on the ground floor windowsill watching the world go by. Willow, on the other hand, was becoming the ‘wild child’ of the house, barking at anything that moved in the front garden, to hearing a sprinkler in the neighbour’s garden next door. She was bringing in most of the foliage from out back (luckily, it’s all overgrown, so she was doing us a semi-favour) and digging up the front. She even brought in a baked potato that the squirrels must have stashed.
Her incessant barking was driving us all mad, and it started to spill out onto our dog walks. She’s never been one to bark at people unless they were wearing a hat, face mask and backpack (her kryptonite), but she was doing it to everyone!
I soon realised she was anxious from the move and being overly protective of all of us. Cue a quick phone call to Kirsten Dillon to book in another training session to work on these, but in the meantime, I have made it my mission to constantly praise her every time she didn’t do it and then change my tone of voice when she did. I also noticed she was only doing it off the lead when she was in front of me, almost as if she was warning people off. I immediately put her on the lead every time she did it and then let her off again when she stopped, and she’s massively improved. She barely does it now on our walk if I’m constantly engaging her and looking out for any of the red flags that will set her off and dodging them accordingly.
I’m not sure the heat helped either. I met many other fellow dog walkers who felt that their dogs had gone from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde overnight and were going nuts. However, I think by just playing games in the water for a few days of fetching her mini space hopper from ponds and streams and not walking anywhere mixed up the daily routine and helped her settle down.
Suffice to say, Rosie, aka ‘Queenie’, still reigns supreme, and Willow has resumed her position as one of her larger, furrier Minions.
By Abigail Hutton-Tufano